Learning Hindi with Rosetta Stone Online (Version 3)
Review of Rosetta Stone Language Learning Tool
Communication is an integral part of man’s personality and essence. Be it any culture, any country, one needs to communicate. I am a native Hindi speaker with average proficiency in Hindi. An attraction of doing this review was that I would get the opportunity to revisit basics of the language from a different perspective and with the help of a different technique.
Journey through the Site:
I started my journey by visiting the site. The site states that the tool:
- isengaging, systematic and interactive
- helps learners to start speaking promptly and with accuracy
- resorts to repetition to improve retention
My next step was to check out the information given about the Hindi Language. The site gives preliminary information. To have some more information about the language on the site would definitely be interesting and encouraging for a learner. There is a lot that one can inform the readers about the language- its history, other languages that have influenced it, information about the script. It would be an interesting introduction to the language.
The site gives some basic tips for Hindi Learning. The tips given are essential and correct to begin learning Hindi, but not sufficient. They could have done better with more information on masculine and feminine genders, singular and plurals, pronouns and how the verb changes according to the gender and number of the subject. I did not come across any tool or icon throughout the site or in the program that could educate the learner on this aspect of the language.
Journey through the Package
It is my first experience with an online language-learning package. Overall, the experience was engrossing. If the two techniques, that is, the conventional method of learning a language and the online technique are compared, definitely the online method has its own advantages. The technique involves the eyes, the ears and the mind at the same time. The package lets a learner avail themselves of all the advantages of online learning. It gives a learner opportunity to work on alphabet and number recognition. This can be done by selecting the icon on the right top corner of all the sheets and selecting the “Alphabet” option. This facility could be better exploited by making provision for illustrations along with the words beginning with a particular alphabet and the software giving an opportunity to the learner to practice speaking the alphabet.
Layout of the Sessions
The package is divided into three levels. Every level is further divided into units, which are subdivided into smaller sessions. Each unit concentrates on all aspects of the language: that is, listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. The levels graduate logically from basic words to a higher level. Individual sessions are developed around a general theme – Greetings & Introductions, Travel, Home & Health, Work & School, Shopping, Places & Events, and Everyday Things, to specify a few. Acquiring topical vocabulary is always helpful and easier to retain than picking words randomly.
The sessions are of varied length, ranging from a minimum five minutes up to 30 minutes, and have been timed nicely. One can choose the speed of the sessions, reset scores, and traverse between sheets at one’s convenience. It allows a learner to break a session in the middle and restart from the same point. Depending on the amount of time a learner has on hand, one can choose the session to work on. The core lessons need to be done with a lot of concentration, as they serve as an introduction to the subsequent sessions. Sessions other than the core sessions can be conveniently covered during a lunch or a coffee break.
Content & Delivery
The software introduces a learner to nouns, verbs and qualifiers. There are Hindi words for nouns such as boy, girl, man, woman, doctor, hospital, basic verbs like run, eat, drink, read, and write, as well as pronouns and qualifiers such as old or new. Hindi words for colors, numbers, position, directions, garments, vehicles, body parts, names of animals are taught effectively in the package. The lesson very tactfully introduces the learner to and, no and because.
The difficulty level of the words used increases from level I up to level III, and so does the sentence formation. Level I helps a learner to form basic sentences, and they are moving onto complex sentences by Level III. The package apprises a learner on how to form longer sentences, to ask questions, make requests, express wishes, issuing warnings, and make choices or comparisons.
The lessons are developed as interactive sessions with sufficient illustrations. In every attempt, the sequence of the illustrations in the work sheets changes. It stops one from choosing the same response as a reflex. It encourages a learner to be attentive to what is being spoken and choose the appropriate option. Another good feature of the program is that a learner is expected to make a word or a sentence by combining words picked from different worksheets. The sessions are repetitive and yet not boring.
Suggestions for Improving the Software
However, better learning could be achieved if:
A Learner is Pre-Introduced to the Language: introduction to more basics of the Hindi language before starting with the software lessons would be advantageous.
The Lessons were planned better: Some of the sessions could be planned better. For example, in the unit on shopping, the word “bazaar” is conspicuous by its absence. The illustrations showing people shopping with Euros and Dollars would have a better impact if they were shown shopping with rupees, the currency commonly used in the region speaking this language. Some of the illustrations depicting “suprabhat” (Good morning) and “shubhratri” (Good night) in the Work and School unit should be shifted to Greetings and Introductions.
Cultural Immersion is concentrated on: In case I am asked the question how much culture is one exposed in the package, my answer would be – “Not much.” Except for a few slides on greetings, one is not exposed to the culture of the region. Hindi as a language is primarily spoken in the South East part of the Asian continent. The minimum that should be done is to have illustrations showing faces and features from this region. They would appeal to the learner, and help them associate better. Pictures of food items like pulses (dal), chapatti and curry in addition to rice, bread, milk and eggs would be interesting and helpful for a traveler. In the unit on Places and Events, events like marriage and a religious ceremony could easily be incorporated. Such illustrations would facilitate cultural assimilation and give more words too. It would make the experience more truly immersing.
Comments on the Hindi Instruction
The language in the sub-continent bears a heavy influence from the Urdu language. The software chooses to stay formal and stick to formal Hindi words rather than giving words that are used as a part of daily speech. For example, the word given for sorry by the package is “kshama,” whereas the word commonly used is “maafi.” The accent is very close to what one gets to hear in this part of the region. When it comes to voice recognition, the package needs to improve a lot. It is unable to differentiate between some sounds.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the software gives some basic knowledge of the language. The language learned is just good enough for a traveler to find his way. In the case of a professional or a student coming to the sub-continent, they would definitely need more information and language proficiency than what the package supplies. Anybody desiring to achieve fluency in the language would need to put in more than just the online sessions. The presentation makes language learning easy and interesting. It engrosses a learner thoroughly. With some pre introduction to the language a learner would be able to grasp the lessons better. I remember reading a proverb, “The excellence of a man is a benefit to the public” and in today’s technologically savvy times the proverb holds true for online learning software. The whole activity of reviewing the package revolves around achieving excellence